The use of enzyme catalysts in organic media for the synthesis of biodegradable polyesters

  • B.K. Samra

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The enzyme catalysed polytransesterification of diesters with diols was investigated under various conditions. The most consistent results were obtained using crude porcine pancreatic lipase (PPL) suspended in anhydrous diethyl ether. Addition of molecular sieve to the above system gave higher molecular weight products. The PPL catalysed reaction of bis(2,2,2-trichlorethyl) adipate and glutarate with butane-1,4-diol in anhydrous ether with and without molecular sieve was investigated over a range of times from 8 to 240 hours. The 72 hour adipate reaction with molecular sieve gave the highest molecular weight polymer (Mn 6,500 and Mw 9,400). The glutarate gave the maximum molecular weight polyester after 24 hours (Mn 5,700 and Mw 9,500). Occasionally the glutarate reaction produced very high molecular weight polyester-enzyme complexes.
Toluene generally gave lower molecular weight products than diethyl ether. Dichloromethane and tetrahydrofuran gave mainly dimers and trimers. Alternative enzyme and diol systems were also investigated. These yielded no polymeric products. The molecular weights of the polyesters were determined by 1H NMR end-group analysis and by GPC. The molecular weights determined by NMR were on average about twice as great as those determined by GPC.
The synthesis of the following diesters is described: i)Bis(2,2,2-trichloroethyl) succinate, glutarate, adipate, trans-3-hexenedioate, and trans-3,4-epoxyadipate. ii) Diphenyl glutarate and adipate.iii)Bis(2,2,2-fluoroethyl) glutarate and trans-3-hexendioate.iv) Divinyl glutarate. v) N,N'Glutaryl dicyclohexanone oxime.The polytransesterification of all the above esters with diols was investigated. The easily synthesised bis(2,2,2-trichloroethyl) glutarate and adipate gave the best results and the work was concentrated on these two esters.
Date of AwardFeb 1996
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnn Jarvie (Supervisor)


  • polytransesterification
  • diesters
  • diols
  • organic media
  • enzyme catalysis

Cite this